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208                                    VERDICT  OX  IXDIA
One would have thought, after these acid comments, that 3Ir.
Huq would have retired to the country and devoted the rest of
his life to the cultivation of hydrangeas. Not at all. His career
appears to have been in no way prejudiced. Bengal politics are
like that.1
Let us tunx to the official documents. One of the most remark-
able journals I have ever read is the Official Beport of the Assembly
Proceedings in the Bengal Legislative Assembly. This may be
described as the Bengal Hansard, but it bears about as much real
resemblance to Hansard as the Marx Brothers bear to the Barry-
mores. So numerous are the interruptions, the uproars, and the
calls to order that the pages give the impression of farcical dialogue
rather than of sober debate.
However, occasionally a member does manage to utter a few
consecutive sentences, and one of these occasions was on July 5th,
1943, when the Minister for Civil Supplies, the Honourable Kwaja
Sir Nazimuddin made a statement on the food situation (see
volume 45 of the Assembly Proceedings). If the vociferous critics
of the British Government had taken the trouble to study this
statement they might have been less hasty in their strictures. For *
here, the Minister admits in so many words that he had deliberately
spread the impression that all was well when, in fact, famine was
already stalking towards Bengal in seven-league boots. Listen to
him :
* I have found criticisms levelled against me that I had stated that
there was no shortage wheix actually there was serious shortage
in the Province... but it appeared to me that insistence on
shortage would only increase panic aixd stimulate hoarding and
push up prices. I therefore refused to discuss the question.. .1 was
1 An interesting sidelight on the mentality of Mr. Huq, who, it must be emphas-
ized is one of the most prominent and successful politicians that Indian nationalism
has produced, is afforded by the advertisement columns of the Bombay Chronicle
Weekly for November 7th, 1943. This contains a glowing tribute from Mr. Huq to
Raj Jyotishi, *the great astrologer and renowned Taptrick.* Among Jyotishi's con-
tributions to mankind is the sale of powerful jewels and charms whose wearers are
guaranteed * promotion in service, prosperity in business, peace of mind, family
happiness and immunity from incurable diseases.* The jewels are described as
* protection from all evil stars.' In justice to Mr. Huq it must be admitted that he is by
no means the only Indian politician who boasts of his reliance upon astrologers and-'
magicians; Jyotishi's list of Indian clients is formidable, and includes many of the
most distinguished champions of Indian nationalism. Chacun a son gout, but it is a
little difficult to reconcile this jiggery-pokery with adult representative institutions.